Orginal Publication Date
MCV/Q, Medical College of Virginia Quarterly
The current knowledge of pathophysiology and new medications, as well as the better use of old ones, has significantly improved the therapy and prognosis of patients with bronchial asthma. However, it should be understood that drug therapy is beneficial only when aggravating or precipitating agents have been eliminated from the patient’s environment; these include allergens, such as dust, mold, pollens and other irritants, infection, exercise, psychological disturbances, certain drugs (aspirin), and stimulation of irritant receptors in the respiratory tract. There are five major classes of drugs used in treating bronchial asthma: (1) adrenergic agents, (2) xanthines, (3) corticosteroids, (4) cromolyn sodium, and (5) parasympatholytic agents. Some adrenergic agents, such as terbutaline and metaproterenol, offer advantages over others, such as epinephrine, isoproterenol and ephedrine. Among the xanthines the measurement of theophylline blood levels has resulted in the more effective use of aminophylline and other theophylline compounds. The development of a topical steroid, beclomethasone has been useful in treating steroid-dependent chronic asthmatics. The drugs described below are prescribed to eliminate wheezing and dyspnea; however, other types of therapy such as antibiotics for infections, hyposensitization for allergic factors, and counseling for emotional disturbances should also be considered.
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